Most wedding ceremonies involve an exchange of marriage vows by the couple, presentation of a gift (offering, rings, symbolic item, flowers, money), and a public proclamation of marriage by an authority figure or celebrant.
Special wedding garments are often worn, and the ceremony is sometimes followed by a wedding reception.
The wedding ceremony of Saint Thomas Christians, an ethnoreligious group of Christians in India incorporate elements from Hindu, Jewish and Christian weddings.
"The Order for the Service of Marriage" in the Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965) specifies the importance of premarital counseling, stating that the "minister is enjoined diligently to instruct those requesting his offices for their prospective marriage in the Christian significance of the holy estate into which they seek to enter".
The Service of Christian Marriage (Rite I) includes the elements found in a standard liturgy celebrated on the Lord's Day as well as other elements unique to this Mass: the Entrance, Opening Prayer, Old Testament Reading, Psalm, New Testament Reading, Alleluia, Gospel Reading, Sermon, Recitation of one of the ecumenical creeds, prayers of the faithful, Offertory, the Declaration by the Man and the Woman, Response of the Families and the People, Exchange of Vows, Blessing and Exchange of Rings, Declaration of Marriage and celebration of the Eucharist, and Benediction.
This section may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards, as the intro to this section is about marriage, and needs to be rewritten to discuss weddings ceremonies and traditions instead, as does the section on Christian customs.
Most religions recognize a lifelong union with established ceremonies and rituals.
Some religions permit polygamous marriages or same-sex marriages.
Historian Vicki Howard points out that the belief in the "ancient" quality of the practice is most likely a modern invention.
Music played at Western weddings includes a processional song for walking down the aisle (ex: wedding march) either before or after the marriage service.